2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing Review - That Rare Moment When Everything Clicks

Bradley Iger
by Bradley Iger
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Fast Facts

2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing Fast Facts

6.2-liter supercharged V8 (668 horsepower @ 6,500 RPM, 659 lb-ft @ 3,600 RPM)
Six-speed manual gearbox, rear-wheel drive (10-speed automatic transmission optional)
13 city / 21 highway / 15 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
15.2 city / 10.2 highway / 13.0 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
Base Price
$84,990 (U.S) / $87,798 (Canada)
As Tested
$108,115 (U.S.) / $101,348 (Canada)
Prices include $995 destination charge in the United States and $2,300 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can't be directly compared.
2022 cadillac ct5 v blackwing review that rare moment when everything clicks

Back in 2016, I had plenty of nice things to say about Cadillac’s flagship performance model of the day, the third-generation CTS-V. But while Cadillac’s naming conventions have become much more convoluted over the past six years, on paper the CT5-V Blackwing seems like more of the same: A big, boosted V8 still remains under the hood, and it’s still underpinned by an updated version of GM’s Alpha platform. The interior still isn’t on par with its German rivals, and because it’s still rear-wheel drive, it’s still a few ticks behind its all-wheel-drive competition in the sprint to 60 MPH.

Yet despite these objective facts, the CT5-V Blackwing proves to be a stone-cold revelation. Yes, the re-introduction of the six-speed manual transmission plays a significant role in that, but there’s much more going on here than just the availability of a third pedal. Not only has Cadillac addressed virtually all of the shortcomings that held the CTS-V back from venturing into instant-classic territory, they’ve refined and improved the formula in so many subtle ways that the CT5-V Blackwing feels like a totally different car.

And it’s not just fun on a good back road – it’s a joy to drive even under the most mundane, everyday circumstances. Quite frankly, I think this Caddy might go down in history as the high-water mark for sports sedans powered purely by internal combustion.

To understand exactly what the CT5-V Blackwing is, one must decrypt a bizarre series of corporate decisions that have taken place at Cadillac over the past few years. First off, this car does not get its motivation from the twin-turbocharged, 4.2-liter dual-overhead-cam Blackwing V8 that was found under the hood of the now-out-of-production CT6-V. Despite the fact that it was built from scratch and exclusive to Cadillac, the engine was unceremoniously sent to the boneyard (alongside the CT6-V itself) after less than 1,500 examples were produced in total.

Secondly, while the V models used to be Cadillac’s top-tier performance models and V-Sport models served as the mid-range offerings, the V models are now the midrange offerings while the Blackwing models are now the top dogs despite the fact that none of them actually have Blackwing engines. No amount of mental gymnastics will allow you to arrive at a logical explanation for this strategy, but thankfully there’s a lot to like here anyway.

Like the CTS-V before it, the CT5-V Blackwing gets its motivation from a modified version of the supercharged 6.2-liter LT4 V8 used in the C7 Corvette Z06 and sixth-generation Camaro ZL1. Here it makes 668 horsepower and 659 pound-feet of torque for gains of 28 hp and 29 lb-ft over its predecessor, but the big news on the powertrain front is what that engine is hooked up to.

GM’s lethargic eight-speed automatic has been tossed out in favor of an honest-to-goodness six-speed manual with automatic rev-matching as the default gearbox. A 10-speed automatic transmission is also optional, and buyers who opt to go that route will score a pair of magnesium shift paddles as well as slightly more urgent acceleration, but this is a situation where rowing your own is more than worth a minor sacrifice to performance. The CT5-V Blackwing’s clutch is perfectly weighted, requiring just right amount of effort to feel substantial but not so much that it gets cumbersome in traffic, and the engagement point is spot-on. Add a shifter with smooth engagement and short throws and you’ve got a drivetrain package that makes the CT5-V Blackwing satisfying to pilot regardless of whether you’re hunting down apexes or just cruising around town.

Far more subdued than the banshee wail of the twin-screw mounted on top of the Hellcat Hemi, the LT4 offers just a hint of blower whine here and there, and it’s entirely masked by the active exhaust system as soon as the revs start to climb. Off-throttle in its sportier drive mode settings, the quad-tipped system offers up just the right amount of pops and crackles to keep things interesting without being obnoxious. Pin the throttle to the floor and the three-pedal CT5-V Blackwing is capable of hitting 60 MPH in 3.6 seconds, and it’ll keep pulling past 200 MPH if you let it, but the Caddy’s charms aren’t limited to just tire-melting grunt.

Outfitted with fourth-generation Magnetic Ride Control dampers that process changes in road conditions four times quicker than the previous system, along with stiffer spring rates, unique hollow stabilizer bars, and higher-rate bushings than the standard CT5-V, the CT5-V Blackwing’s ability to manage mid-corner bumps, high-speed undulations, and dance its way around faster corners is flat-out world-class. The Blackwing’s Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber isn’t as aggressive as the ultra-sticky Pirelli Pzero Corsa rubber that you’ll find on a BMW M5 CS, but the Cadillac makes up for it with better steering and more outright poise.

Aiding in that effort here is the optional carbon ceramic brake system, which sports the largest rotors ever bolted up a production Cadillac (15.75 inches up front, 14.6 in the rear). The pedal is reassuringly firm and the response is linear, and that makes it easy to be precise with the stopping power, but it’s also blissfully free of the grabbiness at the top of the pedal’s travel – an issue that’s still common with contemporary carbon ceramic brake systems in normal driving situations. And speaking of normal driving, the Caddy’s ride quality around town is simply unrivaled in the segment, delivering compliance that beats the air suspension of the Mercedes-AMG E63 S while also keeping body motions firmly in check.

Although the interior is one area where the Europeans remain clearly ahead when it comes to materials and overall quality, the Blackwing’s cabin is still a reasonably pleasant place to spend time. The 18-way adjustable heated and ventilated sport seats strike a great balance between comfort and performance, offering enough lateral bolstering to keep you securely in place when the driving gets interesting without making it a literal pain in the ass to get into and out of the car. And while the 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system doesn’t offer anything exceptional in terms of aesthetics or features, it’s still a huge improvement over the incredibly frustrating Cue system that was used in the CTS-V. Here the input response is quick, it supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and it comes standard with a decent sounding 15-speaker AKG audio system. That satisfies the majority of my personal infotainment demands, but those who’re looking for a wider range of built-in features might find the Cadillac system to be a bit underwhelming.

But anything that the CT5-V Blackwing might be lacking in terms of opulence or cachet it more than makes up for with heaps of supercharged V8 grunt, excellent chassis tuning, and sheer charm. Some of its rivals might be a bit quicker but none of them offer this level of involvement, and considering the fact that Cadillac has already announced that the current Blackwing models will be the last V models motivated by internal combustion, traditionalists would be wise to smoke ‘em while we’ve got ‘em.

What’s New For 2022

The introduction of the CT5-V Blackwing puts a new apex predator at the top of Cadillac’s performance lineup. Along with its rowdy supercharged V8, the Blackwing scores more performance-focused chassis and suspension tuning, track-ready brakes and cooling, aerodynamic upgrades, and an array of interior and tech upgrades. The CT5-V Blackwing also marks the return of a six-speed manual transmission to Cadillac’s mid-sized sports sedan, but a 10-speed automatic is also available for those who would prefer to let someone else handle the gear changes.

Who Should Buy The 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing

Anyone who’s looking for a track-tuned, rear-wheel-drive sports sedan that’s more well-rounded than a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye and far more engaging to drive than the usual suspects from Europe.

[Images © 2022 Bradley Iger/TTAC]

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2 of 47 comments
  • Stuki Stuki on Jan 15, 2022

    Now GM just needs to fit this into a more relevant package: Strip off two doors, some fripperies, and $30K; and sell it as an ultimate spec Camaro. Then, fit the NA version of the engine into it, strip off another $20K, and sell it as a more available Camaro. Then, we're starting to get somewhere, as far as relevance to the enthusiast cohorts who could conceivably have some practical use for this kind of power and poise on public roads are concerned.

  • Skippity Skippity on Jan 16, 2022

    Best suspension in the industry.

  • George Hughes What ever happened to the American can-do attitude. I know what, it was coopted by the fossil fuel industry in their effort to protect their racket.
  • 28-Cars-Later "But Assemblyman Phil Ting, the San Franciscan Democrat who wrote the electric school bus legislation, says this is all about the health and wellbeing of Golden State residents. In addition to the normal air pollution stemming from exhaust gasses, he believes children are being exposed to additional carcinogens by just being on a diesel bus."Phil is into real estate, he doesn't know jack sh!t about science or medicine and if media were real it would politely remind him his opinions are not qualified... if it were real. Another question if media were real is why is a very experienced real estate advisor and former tax assessor writing legislation on school busses? If you read the rest of his bio after 2014, his expertise seems to be applied but he gets into more and more things he's not qualified to speak to or legislate on - this isn't to say he isn't capable of doing more but just two years ago Communism™ kept reminding me Dr. Fauxi knew more about medicine than I did and I should die or something. So Uncle Phil just gets a pass with his unqualified opinions?Ting began his career as a real estate  financial adviser at  Arthur Andersen and  CBRE. He also previously served as the executive director of the  Asian Law Caucus, as the president of the Bay Area Assessors Association, and on the board of  Equality California. [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Ting#cite_note-auto-1][1][/url][h3][/h3]In 2005, Ting was appointed San Francisco Assessor-Recorder in 2005 by Mayor  Gavin Newsom, becoming San Francisco’s highest-ranking  Chinese-American official at the time. He was then elected to the post in November 2005, garnering 58 percent of the vote.Ting was re-elected Assessor-Recorder in 2006 and 2010During his first term in the Assembly, Ting authored a law that helped set into motion the transformation of Piers 30-32 into what would become  Chase Center the home of the  Golden State Warriorshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Ting
  • RHD This looks like a lead balloon. You could buy a fantastic classic car for a hundred grand, or a Mercedes depreciationmobile. There isn't much reason to consider this over many other excellent vehicles that cost less. It's probably fast, but nothing else about it is in the least bit outstanding, except for the balance owed on the financing.
  • Jeff A bread van worthy of praise by Tassos.
  • Jeff The car itself is in really good shape and it is worth the money. It has lots of life left in it and can easily go over 200k.